The viewers don’t notice a thing. When the current news flashes onto the TV screen or enters a home radio over the ether, the complex preparation of TV and radio programs remains completely hidden. When people lean back in a comfortable chair to listen to programming, they shouldn’t have any idea about the hectic, 24×7 pace of radio and television. They don’t need to know that the media business depends on ERP technology not only for traditional core processes like settlement or payroll accounting, but also for creating programming content.
The view is quite different from inside. Competition from commercial broadcasters drove Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroep (VRT), a publicly funded Belgian broadcaster, to convert its ERP processes to an SAP solution as early as 2004. “But the support wasn’t enough. As broadcasters, we must use all our resources as efficiently as possible,” says Geert De Preter, the CIO of VRT. “How can we be certain that the news editors always have the right people at the right place and at the right time? How can we plan productions – including equipment, and personnel – on short notice and control costs?”, De Preter adds. With an eye on these questions, VRT planned to migrate to the SAP NetWeaver platform and Quintiq Resource Planning and Optimization for SAP right after the ERP implementation.
Coverage for Planning Processes in the Media Industry
With Quintiq Resource Planning and Optimization for SAP, Quintiq and SAP have collaborated to develop an application for resource planning and scheduling that is tailored to the special requirements of TV and radio. To accomplish this goal, the SAP for Media portfolio of solutions was combined with the Quintiq application on the SAP NetWeaver platform. The combination not only enables master data management for production, personnel, equipment, and planning, but also plans resources, assignments, and absences. Scheduling and the orchestration of productions are tailored to the media industry.
For scheduling, it is important to allocate the correct resources, especially in terms of personnel, equipment, and locations. Allocation also requires a check of work regulations, availability, and distance. Personnel planning should consider the qualifications, competencies, and individual preferences of employees. The process must also include comprehensive equipment management, combined personnel and equipment planning, and transparency into an enterprisewide and integrated environment for multiple planners. Purchasing should also be involved. If bottlenecks develop among internal resources, an order for an external employee can be advertised or assigned directly. Management and production employees must be able to call up the related plans.
Planning productions invariably involves short-term changes that require adjustments. The technical equipment for television production is expensive, so careful registration and management of equipment withdrawals, returns, and maintenance is a real asset.
Cross-Department Employee Scheduling for Breaking News
These were exactly the processes that VRT had on its wish list. Before implementing the application, all schedulers worked in their own areas. Because they could not view their colleagues’ plans, comprehensive coordination was impossible. Each plan was executable on its own terms, but overlap occurred. Employees were booked twice or not at all because no one had an overview of the situation.
“The TV news division was the first to implement the new application. The radio division followed with a second project,” says De Preter. The radio division now uses the software to manage 150 employees, 30 radio studios, and all its technical equipment. “As a TV division, our most important task is to support the company’s strategy. We pushed for Quintiq Resource Planning and Optimization for SAP because we were convinced by our visit to DutchView, a radio production company in The Netherlands. That company uses the application to plan its operations,” says De Preter.
The application offers benefits for more than resource planning for long-term productions. Because no one can predict current developments, newsroom managers must always deal with sudden changes caused by breaking news. To handle this issue, VRT needed a solution that supports multiple users, grants simultaneous access to multiple planners, and provides a uniform and up-to-date planning status. And VRT also wanted an online application that allowed for access from external locations.
Flexibility in the Media Business
“After the initial implementation, queries from other divisions piled up – they also wanted to take a look at the planning processes,” says De Preter. “That occurred in part because employees had already had contact with Quintiq Resource Planning and Optimization for SAP when they worked in the TV or radio divisions and then moved to another division. They preferred using the application for planning,” reports De Preter.
In 2006, VRT optimized the planning processes for its Operational Activity Television (OATV) TV division. OATV now creates its production plans with Quintiq Resource Planning and Optimization for SAP. At the end of the project, most of the major divisions at VRT now work with the combined SAP and Quintiq application. “The application made a decisive contribution to our ability to be more productive with the same number of employees. By using the application, VRT reduced the number of overtime hours by 27 percent, and it significantly improved the security of planning. As a result of standardization, we have also improved our efficiency in general. We can change plans at the last minute when we have to, and we have a better overview of the availability of our employees so we have the flexibility that is necessary in the media business every day,” says De Preter.